Animal INSTINCTS

Randy J. Boudrieau (Std. 8, ’63), Professor of Surgery and Section Head, Small Animal Surgery at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, says learning science at Cathedral set off his interest in medicine 

What was Cathedral school like when you attended and what are your fondest memories?
It was all-boys and extremely British and very strict/regimented. Vice- Principal Pharaoh was the dispenser of discipline — to be avoided at all costs! I especially remember one ‘visit’ after ringing the school bell to signal the premature end to the lunch hour! Ouch! I very fondly remember all the competitive efforts between the Houses, althoughmy wife equated Savage House to my being a ‘Slytherin’, an obvious interpretation from her Harry Potter readings. The friendships I made have persisted — I am still in contact with my best friend, Rajan, who now lives in the U.K. The science classes stood out, captivating my fertile young imagination.

Can you share with us how your career evolved?
I returned to the United States when I was 12 and was immediately placed two grades ahead. This newly acquired age difference was challenging physically and socially, especially as I was just becoming interested in girls! I was also totally unfamiliar with American sports, which took some time to learn and adapt to. These new challenges resulted in some introspection with a newfound appreciation, tolerance and sensitivity to people from different backgrounds. My science interests led me to pursue a physics degree at university, which is when I became interested in medicine, and combined with my love of animals, veterinary medicine became the natural choice.

The physics background, especially mechanics, led me quite naturally to orthopaedics. I especially enjoyed the academic environment that I was exposed to during my residency, which seemed tailor-made to my personality.

What do you think Cathedral school can do to give their students a better understanding of veterinary medicine and an academic career pathway?Veterinary medicine tends to be misunderstood; I have met many human doctors who are surprised that we perform all of the same diagnostics and techniques. I think inviting visiting professionals can introduce students to this area — these professionals can explain what they do and inform students of the diverse career possibilities, which is imperative for a good understanding of the profession. One programme we have developed is called ‘Adventures in Veterinary Medicine’, which admits students from secondary schools and universities for a period of a few weeks. They spend time shadowing the various specialty rotations (surgery, emergencys and critical care, among others) and experience the day-to-day goings-on of a university specialty practice. Some of these individuals have returned later to enrol as our students.

Can you share with us your impressions when you went back to school after all these years in 2012?

Overall, the physical structure has not changed much, other than some renovations and additions and, of course, the computer lab, which is air- conditioned! I was curious about the basketball hoop in the main central courtyard instead of the lunchtime cricket by the upper classmen — sacrilegious! Another big difference is the presence of girls as opposed to the all-boys school I experienced. I also did not encounter any British teachers (most of the teachers when I attended were British); I noted an absence (it appeared) of English, American and Australian students and a dearth of individuals with a strong British accent — enough so that when I returned to the U.S. after Cathedral, I had acquired a rather strong British accent myself. This really was not a surprise; after all, it obviously reflected the changes in India since I had been there almost 50 years previously. I must admit to reminiscing about the great environment and education I received — all very pleasant reminders of the positive atmosphere I had experienced so many years ago.

– Mehul C. Mehta, MD

(ISC ’75)

Mehul is VP Partners Healthcare International; Instructor in Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School